More than 6 million legal immigrants in just one year to developed countries

31, October

A report from the OECD states that the arrival of people with papers “reaches unprecedented levels.” ...

A report from the OECD states that the arrival of people with papers “reaches unprecedented levels.” There are three main reasons: humanitarian motives, family reunification, and professional reasons.


While governments of wealthy countries maintain increasingly tough rhetoric against immigration, their administrations allow more migrants to enter than ever before. OECD member countries, the club of the wealthiest nations, received slightly more than 6.1 million regular migrants with proper documentation and permanent residence permits in 2022, an unprecedented figure.


A report from the OECD published this Monday asserts that there are three main causes for this increase: humanitarian motives, family reunification, and professional reasons. Most European governments have very low unemployment rates, with many at full employment. At the same time, the European Commission estimates that there are tens of millions of job vacancies because there is a shortage of all types of labor, both skilled and unskilled.


To add to this, the increase in inflation caused by the energy crisis resulting from Russia’s attack on Ukraine led to wage increases in Europe in line with the rising prices. The solution to fill job vacancies and increase competitiveness in labor markets was to open the door to immigration.


These more than 6.1 million new permanent migrants in 2022 (excluding the seven million Ukrainians who left their country) are 26% higher than the 2021 figure. The OECD also maintains that preliminary data for 2023 shows the same trend, and that these 6.1 million will be surpassed this year.


The largest sources of migrants to wealthy countries are the world’s two most populous countries, India and China. The countries that received the most migrants in 2022, in order, were the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Spain, which surpasses wealthier and more populous countries like France and Italy.


Most of these migrants arrive in wealthy countries thanks to family reunification programs. Normally, one of the parents emigrates first, and when they obtain permanent residence permits, they bring their families. These individuals make up 41% of just over 6.1 million new migrants. However, their rate remains stable.


What increased were asylum applications in the United States (730,000) and to a lesser extent in Germany (220,000). The most common countries of origin among asylum seekers were Venezuela (221,000), Cuba (180,000), Afghanistan (170,000), and Nicaragua (160,000).


The other category of migrants that is increasing significantly is professionals, representing 21% of all migratory movements to wealthy countries, compared to around 15% in previous years. The most spectacular increases in these flows occurred in the United Kingdom (almost 100% increase from 2021 to 2022), Germany (59%), and the United States (39%).


Temporary labor migration movements and the emigration of university students also grew, with a 42% increase in one year to nearly two million students from underdeveloped or developing countries at OECD universities. Once again, the United Kingdom is the country that receives the most international students, followed by the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan.


All of this data shows, according to the report, that far from the tough rhetoric of far-right movements, migration is not an uncontrolled phenomenon, and governments have plenty of room to open or close the door based on the policies they apply. Labor markets continue to reduce unemployment. According to the OECD, this migration is being absorbed with no more problems than those stemming from the lack of decent housing at an affordable price.